Open Source Is Dead, Long Live Open Patents?
I've been trying to make sense out of the new Version 3 of the General Public License and I've got to tell you, I can't yet. All I can see is that (1) in the short term, the GPLv3 has turned Microsoft's deal with Novell into a hairball Redmond is trying to cough up; (2) further out, unless the two ayatollahs of open source, Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds, kiss and make up, either Linux or the GPLv3 (or both) is dead, and (3) in the long run IBM's move to create a lawsuit-free zone with license terms for its patents just might provide an alternative.
Microsoft, with its Novell deal, may be feeling like it won a battle against Linux only to find that it's losing the war.
The final version of the GPLv3 included poison-pill provisions that would prohibit any company that distributes open-source software from extending patent protection to some users of the software and not others, regardless of how or from whom the user received it, and it broadened the definition of "distribute" to include what Microsoft was doing with Novell.
As a result, Microsoft seems to be feeling that the Novell deal has blown up in its face.